Boating Safety Bill Clears Okla. House

April 7, 2006

A measure requiring teenagers in Oklahoma to take a boater safety course before operating boats and jet skis moved one step closer to becoming law after passing the House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 1495, by State Sen. Kenneth Corn (D-Poteau) and State Rep. Ken Miller, would create the “Kyle Williams Boating Safety Education Act,” prohibiting anyone under the age of 12 from operating a vessel with a motor in excess of 10 horsepower or any sailboat more than 16 feet long.

The bill, named after a 12-year-old Edmond boy who was killed in a jet-ski accident in August 2004, also requires children between the ages of 12 and 16 to complete a boater safety education course and be accompanied by an adult before being allowed to operate such vessels.

“Oklahoma is one of only eight states that don’t require any boater education for teenagers and children prior to operating a boat,” said Miller, R-Edmond. “This is a common sense measure to protect our children. Left on their own, teenagers are not going to make the best decisions; usually because they don’t understand the dangers involved when they operate these vessels without proper training.”

Currently, Oklahoma law requires a person to be at least 12 years old to operate a jet ski or boat, but there are no additional educational requirements. Studies have shown that 80 percent of fatalities involving watercraft happen when the operator has not had any boating education.

“This is a measure that doesn’t require any additional funding to enact because boater education courses have been offered for thirty years in this state,” said Miller.”

Miller’s bill has been supported by the Personal Watercraft Industry Association.

SB 1495 passed on the House floor by a vote of 75-16 and now moves back to the Senate.

Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives

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